Tuesday, 7 April 2020

It's worse than I thought - leaving your own home is now basically a crime.

From http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350/made:



The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020...

6. Restrictions on movement

(1) During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.

In criminal law, "reasonable excuse" can be used as a defence against a crime. So if you smash a car side window for the fun of it, that's clearly a crime. If you see a child or dog suffocating on the back seat on a hot day, you are allowed to smash a side window in order to save its life (OK, that might be "implied permission" but same general idea). So, if you need a "reasonable excuse" to do [something], that [something] is a basically an offence, which is restated in para 9.

The full list of narrowly defined "reasonable excuses" is below.

This is completely over the top. On the basis of (questionable) scientific advice, our government, like most governments, wants to reduced infection rates by restricting person-to-person contacts. Fair enough.

If you jump in your car, whizz round for a bit and then park up and go back inside, you don't come into contact with anybody you are not doing against the general spirit of the legislation, so why the hell is it not a "reasonable excuse"? How is that different - in terms of infection risk - to going for a bicycle ride?

The whole section should be re-written to say that you are only allowed to leave your home and come into contact with anybody else in order to [etc].

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a reasonable excuse includes the need—

(a) to obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies for those in the same household (including any pets or animals in the household) or for vulnerable persons and supplies for the essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household, or the household of a vulnerable person, or to obtain money, including from any business listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2;

(b) to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household;

(c) to seek medical assistance, including to access any of the services referred to in paragraph 37 or 38 of Schedule 2;

(d) to provide care or assistance, including relevant personal care within the meaning of paragraph 7(3B) of Schedule 4 to the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act 2006(3), to a vulnerable person, or to provide emergency assistance;

(e) to donate blood;

(f) to travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living;

(g) to attend a funeral of—
(i) a member of the person’s household,
(ii) a close family member, or
(iii) if no-one within sub-paragraphs (i) or (ii) are attending, a friend;

(h) to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings;

(i) to access critical public services, including—
(i) childcare or educational facilities (where these are still available to a child in relation to whom that person is the parent, or has parental responsibility for, or care of the child);
(ii) social services;
(iii) services provided by the Department of Work and Pensions;
(iv) services provided to victims (such as victims of crime);

(j) in relation to children who do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents, to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children, and for the purposes of this paragraph, “parent” includes a person who is not a parent of the child, but who has parental responsibility for, or who has care of, the child;

(k) in the case of a minister of religion or worship leader, to go to their place of worship;

(l) to move house where reasonably necessary;

(m) to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.

(3) For the purposes of paragraph (1), the place where a person is living includes the premises where they live together with any garden, yard, passage, stair, garage, outhouse or other appurtenance of such premises.

(4) Paragraph (1) does not apply to any person who is homeless.


Woodsy42 said...

A reasonable excuse 'includes' those things - that doesn't exclude all other things however much they pretend it does.

Graeme said...

The County dump is closed round here so I suspect some people will be travelling to do some fly-tipping. I hope that's covered

Sobers said...

Surely the response to being stopped is to say you're homeless then, so the rules do not apply to you, as per the last point.

A K Haart said...

No presumption of innocence of course. The word 'excuse' drives that home.

Mark Wadsworth said...

W42, that's an argument about statutory construction. Is the list exhaustive (i.e. if it's not on there, it doesn't count) OR are they just sui generis examples? Can I argue that joy riding is within (f) voluntary services? I am doing it voluntarily for my own benefit? There's no part (n) saying "and other similar purposes".

G, maybe it counts as part of "(l) moving house"?

S, they can NPR me and know perfectly well where I live. Same name on my driving licence.

AKH, that's the whole point. Leaving home is an offence, end of. There is no presumption of innocence if you are committing an offence. It's up to you to mount a defence such as "reasonable excuse".